Sometimes you’ll do everything right, but end up with results inconsistent with your intended end goal.
Yet, those unintended results may end up being the very thing you need the most!
Let me tell you a story.
There was once a man named, Jacob, an important figure in Jesus’ genealogical tree. When we meet him in the twenty-eighth chapter of Genesis, we find him on a mission to find a wife. Providentially, God guides his steps outside his city to a local spot where he meets a shepherdess named Rachel. After a rather short conversation, sparks fly and we discern it's love at first sight.
Jacob proves to be a decent dude and a good worker, so much so that Laban (Rachel's dad) offers him the opportunity to negotiate a salary for all the hard work he’s done. Jacob could ask for any figure he wants (within reason of course). However, remember, this dude has had nothing but love on his mind since day one when he first set eyes on Rachel. So he's looking for any and every opportunity to make his thing with Rachel, official. Laban just opened that door! Listen to what Jacob asks for in Genesis 29:18, “Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Dude, really?? 7 years??
Okay. Back up. In Jacob’s day, you didn’t just go to Jared’s to pick up a new shinning diamond ring for your fiancée. Your proposal would instead involve the bride’s family receiving a dowry, a monetary compensation to provide a sort of Trust fund incase your fiancée ended up a widow sooner than expected. Sometimes, a bridal price could cost as much as 6-9 months worth of wages depending on the societal status of the family the man is marrying into.
Jacob, at this stage in life, is sorta broke. All he really has to offer are his services as a worker. In light of that, consider for a moment what he just offered his father-in-law. It's ridiculous because he just offered to pay an extraordinary amount of money that far exceeds the normal going rate for brides. You know what’s even crazier than that? The fact that verse 20 says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”
I'm tempted to say here that love will make dudes do some really stupid things, but then again, who am I to judge? Heck, three minutes after I first laid eyes on the beautiful girl who’s now my wife, I was ready to pack up my bags in New Jersey and move back to Africa to live with her!
So, yeah. Go Jacob!
Back to the story.
On the night of the last day of year seven, Jacob excitedly goes to his father-in-law to receive what he’s earnestly worked hard to earn - Rachel's hand in marriage. Laban, in turn throws a huge wedding party for the soon-to-be-married couple ..…and then, things get scandalous!
Before I get into the scandal, I need to introduce you to another central character in this story, Rachel’s older sister, Leah. Whereas Rachel’s physical features are described in glowing terms in the latter half of verse 17 where it says, “Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful”, our first introduction to Leah presents her this way, “Leah had weak eyes…” (v.17a).
Don't read too much into that statement. "Weak eyes” can simply mean her eyes were pale colored compared to the dark and sparkling eyes commonly seen among women in the ancient Middle East. This does not translate into unattractive. In fact, the implication in verse 17 is that Leah had a soft and tender beauty about her, but in comparison to her stunningly gorgeous sister, she could be easily overlooked.
Now that you've met Leah, here’s the shocking scandal that took place on what was supposed to be Jacob’s and Rachel’s wedding night. Genesis 29:23-25 says, “But when evening came, he [Laban] took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her…(25) When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
Outrageous, right? Unfortunately, there’s even more craziness. Laban not only tries to justify his actions by appealing to local customs, but he insists that Jacob has to work another additional 7 years in order to officially have Rachel as his wife (the first seven years were credited to Leah’s account.)
I know you’re dying with all kinds of questions. Questions like:
- “What kind of sicko-father pulls that kind of move on his daughter on her wedding night?” (and)
- “How in the world do you not know you’re sleeping with a different woman on your honeymoon night?!?” (or)
- "Why would Leah go along with this plan? (Did she even have a choice in the matter?)
Difficult questions abound.
Now, to Jacob's credit, I will say this; In spite of being deceived, Jacob chose to honor his commitment to the 2nd wife (Leah) who was forced on him. His commitment was first and foremost to Rachel and he certainly had a greater love for her than he did Leah, but even so, he took both of them as his wives and fulfilled his husbandly duties (providing and protecting) to them both.
Jacob is who I had in mind when I said in the beginning that, sometimes you’ll do everything right, but end up with results inconsistent with your intended end goal. Yet, those unintended results may sometimes be the very thing you need the most!
Here’s what I mean. From a sovereign redemptive perspective, I propose that Leah WAS the plan all along! You see, after all the wedding-night hoopla died down and Jacob settled in with the ladies to start a family, the sisters got into what I can only describe as the Wrestlemania of childbearing. Their identity became so wrapped up in who could birth the most children for Jacob that they even involved their maids in the competition (because this was apparently a tag team competition). Between all four ladies were born 12 sons and 1 daughter. Leah’s fourth son is named Judah. It's from this Judah’s bloodline that would rise some significant Biblical figures including, Boaz, David, Solomon, Josiah, Joseph, and ….you ready for this? JESUS CHRIST!
See how that worked out?
The Son of God, redeemer of our souls, and savior of this world descends from a sister-wife who was forced on her husband by a deceptive father! How's that for some family drama?
Yet, God caused an awful scandalous situation to work together for the good of all of humanity. Think about that for a moment, (from a human perspective) you and I have the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ because Jacob thought he was in bed with Rachel for the night, but woke up in the morning next to Leah!
Seriously. Sometimes you’ll do everything right, but end up with results inconsistent with your intended end goal. Yet, those unintended results may sometimes be the very thing you need the most! Looking back, while that night may have sucked for Jacob, I sure am glad that Laban and Leah's duplicity was redeemed by God to bring about the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
So, have you recently woken up next to “Leah” after many years of exerting effort to gain “Rachel”? (Both names can represent a variety of things in your life). What if, rather than calling it quits because you didn’t get your intended "Rachel", you stuck through with your "Leah"?
This story isn’t about settling for second best or living in mediocrity, rather, it is a reminder that after you’ve exerted (even prayerfully) all your energy and time in an endeavor you fully believe in, but end up with results inconsistent with your intended end goal, God's is still so sovereign over your life that He will cause you to arrive at the very destination He always intended for you! Experience has shown me that sometimes, I am a small but significant piece of a God-sized puzzle, and my faithfulness in seeing through what has been entrusted to me will prove to be the launching pad of a greater endeavor God had in mind all along!
So, (figuratively speaking) if instead of Rachel, you've recently woken up next to Leah? Fret not! Rather, enjoy the morning air with Leah. Go for a walk with her and allow your new relationship to blossom into something far greater than what you could have dreamed up or even imagined.
Leah just might be the very thing you most desperately need!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.